A Round-Up of All The Fake News You Almost Believed in Jan 2019

Before we step into the second month of 2019, here’s a look at some of the fake news stories WebQoof helped bust.

8 min read
Don’t fall for fake news, <a href="">click here</a> to check out <b>The Quint’s</b> WebQoof stories.
Don’t fall for fake news, click here to check out The Quint’s WebQoof stories.

The first month of 2019 has passed us by in the blink of an eye. With this being an election year, fake news factories have gone into an overdrive, spinning false and misleading narratives to further an agenda.

Before we step into the second month of 2019, here's a look at some of the fake news stories WebQoof helped bust.


Did Nehru Take a Dip In The 1954 Kumbh Mela?

A photo, shared by filmmaker Vinod Kapri, claimed that India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was taking a dip in the river Ganges during the 1954 Kumbh Mela, the first to be held after Independence, in Allahabad (now Prayagraj).

The post claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru took a holy bath during the Kumbh Mela in 1954.
The post claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru took a holy bath during the Kumbh Mela in 1954.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@vinodkapri)  

However, it turned out that the photo was not from 1954, but from 1938, when the late Prime Minister had immersed the ashes of his mother in Allahabad on 10 January.

 The photo of Jawaharlal Nehru during the immersion of his mother’s ashes.&nbsp;
The photo of Jawaharlal Nehru during the immersion of his mother’s ashes. 
(Photo Courtesy: Open Magazine)  

The photo appeared in Open Magazine and India Today among other publications.

Fake News Abound After Mega Opposition Rally

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party, the Trinamool Congress, organised a mega opposition rally at the Kolkata's Brigade Ground on 19 January.

A lot of misinformation and misleading claims were made after the rally concluded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally in Dadra and Nagar Haveli's Silvassa the same day, claimed that the Opposition parties had gathered in Bengal against the BJP, where the saffron party had only 'one MLA'.

However, when The Quint checked the website of the West Bengal state legislature, we found that there were three BJP MLAs in the state – Manoj Tigga, Swadhin Kumar Sarkar and Dilip Kumar Ghosh.

Assuming that the prime minister meant MP, instead of MLA, we checked the Lok Sabha website to verify that as well. BJP has three MPs in the Lok Sabha – of which two are elected representatives, while one is a nominated member.

SS Ahluwalia represents Darjeeling while Babul Supriyo is the BJP MP from Asansol and George Baker is the nominated anglo-Indian MP.


Days after the rally, another video on social media claimed that TMC workers brandished guns to threaten people into attending the rally in Kolkata.

In the video, which carried an India Today logo, a masked man can be seen pointing a gun at people, mostly women, and making them walk in a line. The small crowd can be seen carrying flags of TMC and walking in a line.

While the video is true, it is actually from April 2018, when violence had engulfed Bengal ahead of panchayat polls.

It had been shared to mislead people into showing as if people were forced to attend the rally at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, BJP President Amit Shah, while addressing a rally in Malda, targeted Banerjee for not chanting slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’, and ‘Vande Mataram’.

"In a mahagathbandhan rally, where no one chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’, how will they benefit the country,” asked Amit Shah.

However, this is where Shah got his facts wrong. The three-hour long rally had ended with Banerjee asking the crowd to chant the slogans with her, including: “Badal do, Dilli mein sarkar badal do (change it, change it, change the government in Delhi). Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!" She also chanted Vande Mataram thrice.

Another video shared on social media showed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was at the rally, saying, “The more I think about it, the more I am scared. If Modi and Amit Shah come back to power, then my friends, Pakistan will not remain safe.”

However, this claim was false as the video has been doctored to make it appear as though Kejriwal said "Pakistan would be destroyed."

The original footage from the Kolkata 'United India' rally – where Kejriwal was speaking – showed him saying, "India would be destroyed if the duo was voted back to power,” and not Pakistan.


Rahul Gandhi’s Dubai Visit

Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s Dubai trip – coming just ahead of the general elections in May – was the subject of many fake/misreported news stories and social media posts.

Among the many claims made, one was that Gandhi had a lavish £1,500-breakfast at a five-star hotel, where he also reportedly consumed beef.

A Google search about the details of the event led to a tweet put out by Congress’ official Twitter handle. It revealed that breakfast was not hosted at a five-star hotel but rather at Dubai-based education entrepreneur Sunny Varkey’s house.

The Quint reached out to AICC Secretary Himanshu Vyas, who was also present at the venue, to clarify the details of the event. “There was no beef served at the breakfast... only continental food was served. I can confirm that Gandhi did not consume any beef there. The news is fake,” he said.

Another video, posted by the Facebook page 'Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar' claimed that Rahul Gandhi, while addressing the Indian diaspora in Dubai, said Mahatma Gandhi took the concept of non-violence from Islam.

However, the video has been edited out of context to make it appear as though he had said Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by Islam. Addressing the Indian diaspora at a cricket stadium in Dubai, Rahul Gandhi commented on rising intolerance citing Mahatma Gandhi's book.

In the original video, Gandhi is heard saying: "Mahatma Gandhiji picked up the idea of non-violence from our great religions, from our great teachers. Mahatma Gandhiji picked up the idea of non-violence from ancient Indian philosophy, from Islam, from Christianity, from Judaism, from the great religion where it is clearly written that violence will not help anyone achieve anything."

Misleading Reports After Two Women Enter Sabarimala

On 2 January, two women – Bindu (42) from Koilandy and Kanakadurga (44) from Angadipuram in Malappuram district – had entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple, triggering reactions across the political spectrum.

However, some misleading – if not false – claims also took shape in the course of the development.

Soon after Bindu and Kanakadurga entered the shrine, reports suggested that the women had links with far-left political outfit CPI(ML).

However, speaking to The Quint, Kanakadurga, one of the women, clearly denied any political affiliation. “I don’t have any political background. Since the day the Supreme Court lifted the ban on women’s entry at Sabarimala, I have wanted to go to the temple... in fact, even before,” she said.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Quint, KN Ramachandran, General Secretary, CPI (ML) Red Star, confirmed that Bindu Ammini was no longer associated with the party. He said:

“She was a member a decade back. She was a student activist first, then she became a Kerala state committee member. However, she wanted to concentrate on her studies, so she became inactive in politics, and is now not a member of the party. She has a progressive outlook, and participates in progressive movements. But she is no longer actively involved with the party.”

Meanwhile, another tweet put out by the handle @PartyVillage017 claimed that a man by the name Jayarajan from Valanchery in Kerala ended his life after being ‘heartbroken’ as the two women who had entered the temple had ‘desecrated’ it.

However, Valanchery Police confirmed to The Quint that the claim was false.

“Jayarajan did commit suicide three days ago. But his daughter has confirmed that it had nothing to do with the Sabarimala issue. Neither was he an Ayyappa devotee. He was going through financial and mental issues.”
Pramod P, Inspector, Valanchery Police Station

Jio Tower Scam: Fake Reliance Websites Are Taking People’s Money

A mass-marketing fraud in the name of Reliance Jio has been luring unsuspecting victims across the country, duping them of lakhs of rupees.

They trap victims by offering to “lease” out their land at exorbitant rents (Rs 15-35,000 per month) for setting up mobile communication towers, and also offer a handsome one-time advance payment (Rs 10-25 lakh).

The catch: A “small” processing fee anywhere in the range of Rs 10-50,000. This “small” fee accrues to lakhs and even crores with an increase in the number of victims.

Read our story to know more about the modus operandi, and Jio’s action plan to find the accused.

Did Nehru & Indira Gandhi Award Themselves Bharat Ratna?

After PM Narendra Modi was awarded the 'first-ever' Kotler Presidential Award for his 'outstanding leadership', a slugfest ensued between the Opposition and the ruling party, with the latter accusing Nehru and Indira Gandhi of awarding themselves the Bharat Ratna during their tenure as prime ministers.

Is this true?

Conventionally, the prime minister recommends names to the president, who then accepts these nominations and confers the awards. However, following Nehru's sojourn from the Soviet Union in July 1955, where he had successfully established India as an international player in the context of the ongoing Cold War, then President Rajendra Prasad held a banquet dinner. At the dinner, Prasad announced that he would award the Bharat Ratna to Nehru.

Similarly, Indira Gandhi was given the award for steering India to victory in the 14-day-long war with Pakistan over East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, whereupon then President VV Giri "took full responsibility for conferring the honour on Indira."


Viral List of 2019 Lok Sabha Election Dates is Fake!

A list of dates is viral on social media, claiming to be that of the fast-approaching 2019 general election.

However, several things in the list indicate that it is fake.

For starters, the Election Commission of India (ECI) generally announces the election schedule via a press conference and a subsequent official press release. Also, the announcement of the dates for general elections is widely covered, and would have definitely been covered by the media.

Further, The Quint spoke with An ECI spokesperson, who confirmed that these were not the authentic dates.

‘Terrorist Attack’ in Tirupati Was Actually A Mock Drill By Army

A viral video on social media claimed that there was a terrorist attack at the Tirupathi-Tirumala bypass road in Andhra Pradesh. In the video, Indian Army personnel are seen engaging in a gunfight with the “terrorists”.

However, the video has been shared with wrong information. The "terrorist attack" was in fact a mock drill conducted by the Army.

Tirupati East Police Station's Chief Inspector told The Quint that it was "just an army exercise". "A mock drill and not any attack," he said.

On 11 January, a mock drill was conducted, which involved trained commandos, at two locations – Warangal’s Bhadrakali temple and MGM Hospital junction.


Yes, Munnar Recorded Sub-Zero Temperatures But It Never Snowed

A photo circulating on Twitter showed cars covered in snow, implying that it had snowed in Munnar, Kerala.

The post was shared by popular cinematographer Santosh Sivan on Twitter, who claimed in his tweet that the photo was from Munnar, a popular hill station in Kerala.

Munnar recorded sub-zero temperatures on 4 January, but there was no snowfall in the region.

Kerala Tourism also clarified on Twitter that the photo was possibly clicked in Himachal Pradesh’s Manali or some other location by a group travelling from Kerala.

(Not convinced of a story you came across on social media and want it verified? Send us the details at and we'll fact check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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